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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 January 2008, 20:51 GMT
Murder victims 'in crucifix pose'
Steve Wright
Steve Wright was known to Ipswich prostitutes, the court heard

A man who carried out a "campaign of murder" left two of his five victims in a crucifix pose, a jury was told.

Steve Wright, 49, who denies murder, "systematically selected" and killed the women, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

The two bodies with arms outstretched were among a number of "striking" similarities in the victims, who worked as prostitutes to fund drug habits.

All could have been asphyxiated by one or more killers and Mr Wright's DNA was found on three bodies, the jury heard.

Tania Nicol, 19, Gemma Adams, 25, Anneli Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24, and 29-year-old Annette Nicholls went missing during six weeks in 2006.

Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said the decision by the women to turn to prostitution "was ultimately to prove fatal".

The state of their bodies and the circumstances... is consistent with a campaign of murder
Peter Wright QC

"In the 10 days that elapsed from 2 to 12 December 2006, their bodies began to turn up," he said.

The naked bodies of two of the victims - Miss Alderton and Miss Nicholls - had been left in a "cruciform shape", the jury was told.

Miss Alderton's body was found in woodland near Nacton on 10 December while Miss Nicholls' body was found near Nacton two days later.

Mr Wright said of Miss Alderton: "In all likelihood she had been murdered elsewhere and her body abandoned and left posed in this isolated spot."

Evidence showed Miss Nicholls had been murdered and her body abandoned shortly after she was last seen alive on 8 December, the court heard.

Women 'unsuspicious'

The prosecutor told the jury that Steve Wright, who lived in the town's red-light district, was a user of prostitutes and had transport both to pick them up and dispose of their bodies.

The women were also at ease in his company and unsuspicious of his motives, even when the bodies of other prostitutes began to turn up, the court heard.

Jurors were told there was a full DNA profile matching the defendant, found on the bodies of three of the murdered women.

Mr Wright said the defendant - who worked as a forklift truck driver in nearby Hadleigh - had the opportunity to commit the murders when his partner was at work on night shift and out of the house.

The victims, clockwise from top, Annette Nicholls, Anneli Alderton, Paula Clennell, Gemma Adams and Tania Nicol
The women were all found dead on the outskirts of Ipswich

Jurors were told there was evidence that the women were asphyxiated while under the influence of hard drugs.

Mr Wright said: "The state of their bodies and the circumstances in which they were systematically stripped and dumped is consistent with a campaign of murder."

The prosecutor earlier said Miss Nicol and Miss Adams were the first to go missing.

He told the jury the circumstances of their disappearances and deaths showed they were "the work of the defendant, either alone or with the assistance of another".

Miss Nicol's naked body was found in a stretch of water known as Belstead Brook on 8 December.

Jurors were told a witness saw a Ford Mondeo car, the same make of vehicle as owned by the accused, in the Handford Road area at the time Miss Nicol was there on 30 October, the night she was last seen.

Bodies in brook

The court heard Mr Wright's car was later seen by an automatic number plate recognition camera driving out of Ipswich towards the area where Miss Nicol's body was found.

The jury was also told distinctive fibres found on three of the women, were matched to the car, Mr Wright's home and items of his clothing.

Miss Adams was last seen on the evening of 14 November 2006 or early the next day.

The prosecutor told the court there was also evidence to suggest Mr Wright's Ford Mondeo was again driving in the red light district around the time Miss Adams vanished.

He said Mr Wright had been "cruising the streets . . . in search of a suitable victim".

Miss Adams' naked body was the first to be found, on 2 December, in the same brook further upstream towards Hintlesham.

A new jury is hearing the case after the first was discharged when one member reported health problems.

The trial resumes on Thursday.

Steve Wright arrives at Ipswich Crown Court

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